It can mean everything or it can mean nothing depending on who has defined what it means for your neighborhood. If you ask your neighbors what they want they will undoubtedly produce a list of things – like better sidewalks and curbs, faster police and fire response, less vandalism and fewer stray dogs and feral cats. Others want coffee shops, retail stores, bike trails, community gardens, or entertainment and recreational centers, even wifi. Its true these things can make life in the neighborhood more enjoyable, more convenient and even healthier but what these things really do is create a sense of place.
Like most things it depends on who you talk to. Local government defines graffiti as anything, usually painted, on public or private property without the permission of the property owner. Gang scripting generally associated with territory or messaging and then there is tagging the process of making a mark. Graffiti artists may tell you that they focus their work on blighted areas because they want to draw attention to civic priorities, inequality, or make statements about politics and social injustice. Some just want to show their work or that scripting and tagging are about being noticed. Some say this goes back to the early days of man and the first hand print on a cave wall – mans quest for relevance. In the eyes of property owners its vandalism and to governmental bodies and businesses it is a form of vandalism that robs monies from parks, infrastructure and public safety budgets each year.
Los Angles spent 7 million dollars last year abating graffiti. Omaha about $100,000 and Kansas City, Mo about $250,000 – surely there is a better solution . Many cities across the country have employed artist to paint murals that brighten avenues and downtown areas. Some have created spray walls or free spray areas where any of the above can do their thing. Sometimes blanking the canvas every month or so to start anew. Most murals have remained untouched for years but of late there has been a trend to “tag” someone else’s work. To tag new structures, windows, highway signs, cars, and public art. Even religious symbols that used to be untouchable are being hit.
Went to New Orleans a few weeks ago to The NeighborWorks Training Institute which is a week of classes/workshops basically about the “How to’s” of building Communities. I go as a Community Organizer and they have lots of classes about how to organize, evaluate and focus residents energies to accomplish goals for their communities; but lets face it this job is a lot like herding cats and the best way to do that is to just “get on your pony and ride”. I lean toward the classes that take you into actual neighborhoods where you can visually inspect what’s going on, walk the streets, talk to residents and the mailman to get a feel of what the place is like or how its changed.
Those of you that are not familiar with Waterway Park it is located here in KCK about 50 feet west of 11th and Grandview. The Park was originally a shallow lake that was part of a larger park design by Sidney Hare, of Hare & Hare, a popular and progressive Landscape Architectural firm responsible for many projects in this region. Sidney Hare’s opinion that nature was the mother of all true art and that painting, sculpture, and landscape art were ready-made inspirations for adorning home grounds, reflected his background and avant-garde ideas. The project was undertaken over 100 years ago and included a sunken garden between Minnesota Ave and State Ave and included Big Eleven Lake. Nearly a mile of waterway with gardens, trees, benches and gathering places for residents and visitors alike.
Since the very conception of EPIC back in July of 2011 we have all been amazed at all of the help and support EPIC has received from not only this community but from the whole Metro area. We have been so lucky to have a group of artists, staff, administrators and neighbors that are commented to the ART of Clay as a tool to engage the residents of this community and especially those that find ART their only means of expression.
We are so thankful to Community Housing of Wyandotte County(CHWC,Inc) and Accessible Arts, Inc for their willingness to form this partnership that has made EPIC possible. We are so thankful for the Artists that have committed themselves to providing such a high level of instruction to those that enter this space. We are thankful for all of our friends that visited, volunteered, have taken classes and helped promo our cause.
Now we want to thank McDevitt Creative for producing this wonderful video about what EPIC is all about. Thank you, thank you and thank you! please take a minute to view the story about a labor of love for this community.
If you believe in what we are doing and want to donate to our cause:
For operational and facility support – CHWC, Inc. 913 342 7580
For Programing support – Accessible Arts,Inc. 913 281 1133